The 2013 Senior Bowl is set to kickoff later today. For draftnik's like me, it might as well be the start of the 2013 NFL Draft season. We are going to get a look at future NFL stars today in Mobile, Alabama.
Which players will step up and seem their draft stock rise? Which players will fall flat on their back end and see their stock drop?
Today's article is going to focus on 10 players to keep an eye on.
Ryan Nassib, Quarterback, Syracuse
I am not nearly as impressed with Nassib as other experts are. While he has a strong arm and can make every throw on the field, down field vision and pocket presence really do worry me. It seems that Nassib struggles stepping up into the pocket to provide a strong window to throw into.
What I want to see from Nassib today is better field vision and an ability to make secondary reads. If he is able to do this against top of the line collegiate talent, the Syracuse product could inch into my top 32 and become a first-round prospect. If not, he will be stuck with a late second-round grade.
Tyler Wilson, Quarterback, Arkansas
Wilson will probably end up being the No. 1 overall quarterback selected in April. He possesses a strong arm, has no issues making strong reads and is as accurate as they come on intermediate routes. Wilson's decision-making process will have to be honed if he expects to have a solid rookie season as a starter. I want to see him become less hesitant when looking off his initial target. He seems to be a bit too inconsistent to give a top grade to at this point.
Stepfan Taylor, Running Back, Stanford
My initial grade for Taylor was in the second round. I got a bunch of crap for that leading up to bowl season, but the former Stanford back seems to have validated my belief in him. While Taylor doesn't do one thing great, he is good at pretty much everything. What I like about the young running back is that he follows his blockers well and is as patient as they come in the backfield. Reports indicate that the New York Jets are high on him, which makes a lot of sense. A strong postseason performance could actually push Taylor towards the back end of the first round, somewhat like Doug Martin last season.
Quinton Patton, Wide Receiver, Louisiana Tech
Patton came to Mobile without much fanfare. He is a small-school product, which causes some to question his ability to go up against top tier talent. He needs a strong performance today in order for those of us who like the tape on him to start buying in. Patton plays larger than his 195-pound frame seems to suggest. I love how Patton goes up in the air and make plays with his hands. This is going to translate extremely well to the NFL.
Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Williams is starting to be talked about as a possible first-round pick. While his statistics and ability to stretch the field are both solid positives for the young receiver, he does tend to get thrown off the line against press coverage, which indicates a harsh learning curve in the NFL. Too bad we won't be able to see this considering that the Senior Bowl doesn't allow that type of coverage.
Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan
Fisher will not be the first offensive tackle off the board, but he could easily end up being a top-10 pick. I love his footwork on the outside and ability to maintain his positioning against edge rushers. Those two variables lead me to believe Fisher will be a strong blindside protector at the next level. Level of competition is a worry, but Fisher can end those worries with a strong performance against some of the best defensive end the 2013 NFL Draft has to offer.
Margus Hunt, Defensive End, Southern Methodist
Hunt has only been playing football for a couple years now, and it shows. He is about as raw as they come from the defensive end position. That being said, the upside is definitely there. As Matt Miller at Bleacher Report pointed out, Hunt could stand to gain some weight and be utilized as a 3-4 defensive end, which seems to fit his skillset at this point. While he has a second-round grade, Hunt could easily find himself in the first-round conversation with a solid performance today.
Chase Thomas, Linebacker, Stanford
Strictly a 3-4 backer, Thomas possesses the raw pass-rushing ability that teams who run that defensive scheme covet. He can beat offensive tackles on the outside with a strong swim move, and has the bulk to go inside against guards and fullbacks. While Thomas could be a liability in coverage, he brings a lot to the table as a pass-rush specialist early in his career. Let's see how he performs today before making and projections as to where he might go in the draft. Currently, Thomas is in my top 50.
Jamar Taylor, Cornerback, Boise State
Apparently, Taylor struggled a bit at Senior Bowl practice. Additionally, he best skill (press coverage) will not be on display today. Those two factors are going to hurt Taylor, who will now need to focus on the NFL Scouting Combine and individual team workouts in order to get his stock back into the second day. With that in mind, Taylor could surprise us a great deal and perform well in zone/man coverage. If so, a lot of his struggles during the week will be forgiven.
Phillip Thomas, Safety, Fresno State
I am not ready to give Thomas a first-round grade, but he is damn near close to that level right now. He is a top of the line cover safety, which is a rarity for a safety entering the NFL. Thomas doesn't get too stiff when back peddling and fully understands what his role is as an over the top safety. He is seasons, well versed in understanding offensive schemes and ready to start from day one. A strong performance in Mobile could have some pushing him ahead of Eric Reid as the No. 1 overall safety prospect. Should be interesting.